Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Books I read on Planes and Trains

Long time, no see? Sorry for my extended absence. I was traveling for several weeks and, upon my arrival back home, was inundated with school work and ballet rehearsals (which I admittedly love.)

Never fear. During my weeks away for Spring Break and College visits, I read plenty of books. Here are the ones I read while clouds floated outside my airplane window and sheep grazed on hills by the train tracks:

1. The Death of Ivan Illych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy is surprisingly readable. His short stories were perfect for a day of traveling and I can see why Chekhov pronounced Tolstoy his favorite author. Next time maybe I will be brave and pick up War and Peace.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I did not expect to fall in love with this book. I have enjoyed all of Reid's previous works, yet this one stood out as a crowning jewel among the others. Reid tugged at my heartstrings and caused some inconvenient tears on the public train. It is a masterpiece and truly original.

3. My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan
Julie Whelan's novel undoubtedly charmed me. Still, I was never completely drawn in or invested. It felt more like a plot to a Hollywood movie than a novel. However, Whelan's personal story as to how this novel came to be is fascinating and I would not hesitate to recommend this little love story to a friend.

4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
At first, I was unsure. Then, by the time Rosencrantz proclaimed he didn't "believe" in England, I was howling with laughter and realized I had been enjoying the ride all along. This play, first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, is terrifying and dark while being hilarious and clever. Bravo.

Thanks for stopping by! Let's hope I can get some reading done while not on vacation now...

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Best Books of 2018 (in the opinion of yours truly)

2018 has been hectic. And amazing. And challenging. 
I read 76 books.
These were my favorites: 

1. The Idiot by Elif Batuman 
I wrote an entire review raving about this masterpiece. The Idiot was such an "Emily" book and I never wanted it to end. Batuman's genius astounds me.

2. Circe by Madeline Miller
Greek mythology is my kryptonite. I blame Percy Jackson (my gateway drug) for forever ruining me. I loved Miller's Song of Achilles but, impressively, I think that Circe is even better. Miller's tale of the magnificent Circe was unputdownable.

3. Scythe by Neal Shusterman 
Scythe was such a surprise. It deserves the award on its cover and all the praise it has received. Shusterman has made me look at death from a new angle. And I still ponder the questions he raises. I cannot wait to continue the series. 

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern 
Morgenstern writes such beautiful, elaborate descriptions that miraculously do not bore me in the least. She makes the circus come alive.

5. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Anders
Anders is now permanently on my authors-to-watch list. She writes with such cleverness and zealousness. All the Birds in the Sky was my favorite sci-fi of the year.

6. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
This is the one book from my school reading list that qualifies as a 2018 favorite. Kitchen was tragic at parts but, in the end, hopeful. Mikage's voice was conversational and endearing; and I am now grateful for my own kitchen. I have neglected to acknowledge its power. I can't wait to read more of Yoshimoto. 

7. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld 
The Child Finder was disturbing and scary; yet, in the end, I felt hope instead of despair. Wow, it's actually a very similar reading experience to Kitchen in that regard. The Oregon setting was particularly atmospheric.

8. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Armin 
I adore Italy with all my heart. I visited once nearly a decade ago and I still dream of its splendors. The Enchanted April was an immersive experience that had me rooting for all the characters to blossom into themselves and enjoy their freakin' castle.
 (I'm not bitter at all.)

9. Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
Sharon Shinn continues to be one of my favorite fantasy authors. Troubled Waters and the rest of the books in the quartet were a joy to devour. Her world building is unparalleled.

10. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker 
Brutal. Horrifying. Briseis narrates her view of the Trojan War and Pat Barker pulls no punches. It was a somber and powerful way to end my reading year.

I can't wait to see what 2019 brings